Fulling is an essential step in the wet felting process because fulling your wet felted project will ensure a smooth, tight felt. Once your fibers have been transformed into "felt", the process of "fulling" further shrinks the project by bringing the fibers even closer together. The fulling process includes pressure and agitation in a variety of ways, such as further rolling, "wadding", rubbing, palming and tossing or throwing. Some people do not like to "shock" the fibers with aggressive fulling techniques and the addition of hot water, while others may choose to do this for the resultant textures and finishes that can be achieved. This pressure and friction help compact your wet felted project giving it strength, texture, and durability. Stopping the process of making hand made felt too soon and avoiding the "fulling" may result in fragile felt that will not hold up to wear and use. If you are concerned about too much shrinkage, make sure to make a test piece so you plan your dry layout large enough to accommodate for the necessary shrinkage to make a great piece of felt.
How do I Know When My Project is Finished Felting?
You will want your wet felted project to have a nice smooth, tight finish. A tight felt will help give your wet felted piece strength and last over time.
When you ask yourself if your piece is felted enough, sandwich the piece between thumb and forefinger and rub them back and forth. If the wool fibers feel like different layers are slipping in between your fingers, you have more fulling to do. Continue fulling until you feel you have a solid piece of fabric. You can also allow your piece to dry overnight and evaluate after it is dry. Making a good felt is a lot like making a good bread, you will learn with experience to tell how things are progressing by how they feel.
Can I Leave my wet felting project overnight and come back to it later?
Yes, if you cannot finish your wet felting project, you can come back to it later.
If you will come back to it the next day, keep it moist by covering it with plastic until you can return to finish felting it. If you need to leave it for a longer period and are concerned about it getting musty, you can press out most of the water and permit it to dry. In a temperature controlled environment, however, you can leave a project for a few days.
Can You Needle Felt A Project After It's Been Wet Felted?
Of course! Once your wet felted project is dry, you can easily needle felt onto your piece just like any other fabric. Just take care if you have included any fabrics in the layout. It may help to make a small test piece to ensure all the design elements will perform as you desire. The only additional supplies you need are felting needles and a needle felting pad.